Precarious Work, Workplace rights issues discussed by IUF Team and Coca-Cola Global Management

October 7, a team of Coca-Cola union representatives led by IUF General Secretary Ron Oswald met Coca-Cola Director Global Workplace Rights Ed Potter and his team in Atlanta to discuss global labour relations at Coca-Cola, specific cases from countries were abuses were reported, and, in particular, the issue of precarious employment.

Some of the most important issues in the discussion were workplace rights concerned Pakistan. Unions have for a long time protested the refusal of CCBPL management to accept SMO workers as union members, and the excessive and irresponsible use of outsourcing and casual labour (see earlier reports on the website). The IUF has urged the company once more to use its direct influence on CCBPL to put an end on the denial of union rights and the abuse of casual labourers and denial of social guarantees to them, noting that the union in Karachi otherwise will be forced to take public action.
Another Pakistan issue could be resolved at least partly – the company pledged to finally start payments through the profit participation fund, a legal requirement that had been disregarded by local management. The company would also agree to a joint management-workers committee to oversee the Workers Profit Participation Fund in future. An important issue here is the denial to provide the necessary information to control whether management provided correct payments into this legally required fund.
European Unions raised several concerns regarding the Information and Consultation Rights of European Employee representatives, as well as the protection of rights and possibilities of these representative to fulfill their international coordination functions without harassment and under decent conditions, notably, paid leave for EFFAT coordination meetings. It was agreed that TCCC would raise this point with Coca-Cola Europe management.
Strong concern was expressed by union representatives about a unilateral workplace rights audit under way worldwide, which is another unilateral measure by TCCC in this sphere. Unions underlined that a real protection of workplace rights can be spoken of only in bilateral processes involving real employee representatives, and that the IUF will not accept Coca-Cola’s unilateral approach to Workplace standards.
(Share your experience about the workplace rights audit in your country in the Forum).
The meeting also had a thorough discussion on workers rights in Colombia, where precarious employment and company supported yellow unionism are of great concern.
As formulated by the Global Coca-Cola Workers meeting in May 2008 in Oberjosbach, Germany, the IUF Atlanta team brought forward the issue of precarious work as a general problem of labour relations in Coca-Cola worldwide. The initial findings of a survey conducted by the IUF were presented (see the text in English, Spanish, Japanese, 日本語) ). Management confirmed a number of facts in the survey, for example the number of 63% of precarious workers in a number of Indian locations, and pledged this number would be reduced in the next years.
Management proposed a case-by-case, country-by-country logic and encouraged unions to share information about abusive situations and it was agreed that this would be subject of ongoing discussions in the framework of the Atlanta process. India, Pakistan and a number of other countries would be first focuses of cooperation on this issue. However, unions also stressed there is a need for a Company standard limiting numbers of precarious workers.
(send us a report on the situation in your country today using the survey questionnaire).
The next “Atlanta meeting” is scheduled for April 2009.